published Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Baylor's Maya Mathis commits to play softball at University of Tennessee

Baylor School's Maya Mathis, left, has accepted a scholarship offer to the University of Tennessee going into her junior year of high school.
Baylor School's Maya Mathis, left, has accepted a scholarship offer to the University of Tennessee going into her junior year of high school.
Photo by Doug Strickland.

Baylor's Maya Mathis has accepted a scholarship offer to play softball at the University of Tennessee.

Mathis, who will be a junior for the Lady Red Raiders next spring, said she had been attending UT's softball camps for the last two and a half years. Her most recent camp participation was in June, which is when Lady Volunteers coaches Ralph and Karen Weekly made an offer.

"It's a good school academically and a good athletic program," Mathis said. "I like the coaches. I like them as coaches and as people. I like the environment. I think it will be a good fit for me."

Mathis said she began playing softball when she was 7. Not long afterward she set a goal of ultimately competing in the Southeastern Conference.

"It's a fast-paced game at that level," Mathis said. "I've got to keep working hard to prepare for that. It's always been my dream to play in the SEC. I'm really blessed to get the opportunity."

Mathis has routinely been in the Lady Raiders' batting order since she was a freshman. She's also been a key contributor on their Division II-AA state-championship teams the last two seasons, chipping in with a couple of home runs in last season's Spring Fling.

She mostly played third base or shortstop growing up but also has played outfield on her Tennessee Fury 16-under select team coached by Kelsey Cartwright. Last high school season she made the transition to second base, and Baylor coach Kelli Smith said with her great range she did so seamlessly.

"I've seen her do a lot of great things for us," Smith said. "She has the desire to get better every day. She challenges her teammates, too, which is a great thing. There's a handful on our team that there's just never enough. She won't shy away from work."

Mathis said she's willing to play any position to give her a chance to be on the field. Smith said Mathis also has been a productive offensive player for the Lady Raiders, particularly on the basepaths.

"Her speed is probably the thing that got her noticed," Smith said. "That's something you can't teach."

Mathis said she is considering majoring in marketing.

Contact Kelley Smiddie at ksmiddie@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.

about Kelley Smiddie...

Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or ksmiddie@timesfreepress.com.

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